South Korea beat Kyrgyzstan 1-0 to advance to AFC Asian Cup knockouts

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ABU DHABI, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- South Korea advanced to AFC Asian Cup 2019 Round of 16 on Friday after beating Kyrgyztan 1-0 in Group C.

So far, Group B's Jordan, Group C's China and South Korea have already qualified for the knockout stage after winning the two games they played in the group stage.

South Korean defender Kim Min-jae scored four minutes before the half-time break to give Paulo Bento's side a second straight single-goal win at the tournament.

Kyrgyztan coach Alexander Krestinin took the decision to drop goalkeeper Pavel Matiash after his costly error in the 2-1 loss to China and brought 21-year-old Kutman Kadyrbekov into the team for his debut competitive fixture.

The Koreans were on the front foot throughout the opening quarter of the game, with Hwang In-beom and Hwang Ui-jo both trying their luck from range but neither was able to find the target.

Kyrgyz Republic, though, did manage to threaten at the other end, with Bekzhan Sabynbaev left with his head in his hands when he could only find Kim Seung-gyu's gloves with a shot from close range 11 minutes before the break.

Bento's team kept pushing for the opener, with Lee Chung-yong somehow firing over the bar at the end of a flowing move in the 36th minute while Koo was again taking aim from distance, only for Kadyrbekov to make another save.

But in the end, Kim Min-jae's goal was enough to see off a spirited Kyrgyztan and take the two-time champions into the next phase of the competition.

China and South Korea will face off to determine who will finish in pole position in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday while Kyrgyzstan meet the Philippines with both sides looking for their first points of the tournament to keep their slim hopes of progressing alive.

Organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and expanding to feature 24 teams, the 17th edition of the quadrennial AFC Asian Cup is being held in the UAE from January 5 to February 1. Enditem

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